Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Book Review: Does God Have a Future?

One of the most intense debates going on within evangelical Christianity at the moment is over so-called open theism. One of the most contentious assertions of this approach is that, for God, the future is partly settled and partly open. The debate has, at times, been vitriolic. For over a year, the two authors of this book, Does God Have a Future? A Debate on Divine Providence, exchanged emails with each other discussing the issue in a respectful, caring, but assertive tone. They have put their correspondence into this book as an introduction to the issues associated with open theism and also as a model for how theological dialogue should take place. Christopher Hall is a proponent of the classical view of God and is an editor-at-large for Christianity Today. John Sanders is one of the prominent advocates of the open view and has authored an excellent book on the subject entitled The God Who Risks and co-authored another one called The Openness of God. Their discussion covers a wide range of topics in a somewhat uneven way - to be expected given the nature of their dialogue. Both authors begin with a summary of how they arrived at their respective positions then explore the practical problems for classical theism, the problem of suffering and evil, the nature of God and God's attributes, the historical development of ideas about God, the relationship between omniscience and free will, and the task of doing theology. There hasn't been anything else published on this topic quite like this. The fact that the exchanges were email-based over such a long time gives the book an informal flavour. And yet, the authors are rigorous in critiquing the other's view whilst treating each other with deep respect. Although there is much left unsaid in the book, if you are looking for an introduction to the open theism issue and want to genuinely understand what attracts proponents of the view, then this book makes an excellent start. You will also read of some of the concerns held by those who wish to retain a more traditional, classical view. Highly recommended! Related Links The following are a few of the many web resources available on open theism. Please note that they are not listed in any particular order - I have provided them in the order I have come across them in my searching. I have also attempted to provide an equal number of each but I think there are a couple more on the contra side than the pro. This doesn't mean I favour the contra view - it just happened to turn out that way. A good thinker won't base their conclusions on quantity after all!

In tackling this issue, I believe one should read the best of both sides on the issue. That means actually getting hold of the best books on the topic which provide a more sustained treatment of the various points of views. In my opinion, the best books are: In favour of open theism

Against open theism

One other helpful book

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